By Arts Editor Cheryl Folland

Over the next few months, The Nav will be showcasing local venues that provide a platform for artists looking to break into the music and spoken word scene. These venues focus on local comedians, musicians and poets by providing them with a once a week slot to get their work out to the public. This week, we’ll be focusing on The Vault Cafe—one of Nanaimo’s only all ages venues.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting The Vault Cafe, located at 499 Wallace Street in Nanaimo’s downtown core, I strongly recommend it. Art by local paintings adorns the wall in an open gallery style. Each painting remains on the wall until purchased by customers. With a high overturn, the theme changes from week to week. At this week’s show, pop abstract paintings high in colour and sporting easily recognizable comic book heroes add a splash of ironic colours.

Be sure to arrive early, as seating is limited. Though this is not a limiting factor in the summer, due to the large outdoor patio, it can be an issue in the winter. While you’re waiting for a show to start any given night, try the locally sourced unique menu items. From shrimp and bacon penne to gluten free brownies that taste like heaven, there’s something for everyone.

Open mic night varies from week to week. Artists come in and sign up on a chalk board located beside the baker’s case. There are approximately 19 slots. This week featured many first time performers. My personal favourite was Raymond. A quiet and shy young man, dressed in a hoodie and jeans, took the stage to sing The Zutons’ “Valerie” along with a digital track. Cheers and gasps erupted from the audience as Raymond poured out a soulful sound. His style is reminiscent of Motown meets classical voice. Slicing through vocal runs like a hot knife in butter, it was no surprise when the crowd roared in applause at the end of his song. With a quiet, barely audible, “thank you”, Raymond exited the stage and returned to his friends.

Other performances ranged from slam poetry, country and bluegrass to original singer songwriters. One developing star named Max, had power packed lyrics to soulful acoustic guitar riffs. Singing about heart aches and unrequited love.

“Waiting for the time to stop, so, I can throw what’s left of you in my garden when no one’s watching.”

The room is silent as they soak in the soul from this petite pixie.

“I want nothing more than a padlock to keep you out.”

A listener commented, “Max is wise beyond her years. You can hear the life lived in her voice.”

If you’re looking for a place to showcase your work or find a new favourite artist, come on down to The Vault Cafe on a Wednesday night.